Why is it that we seldom seem get the entire story?
My theory – and it’s an obvious one – m-o-n-e-y. Which brings me to the January issue of Car and Driver magazine and its first-in-a-long-time Radar Test.
That’s right, fellow traffic scofflaws, over the years Car & Driver has periodically conducted extensive tests of traffic radar detectors for folks who don’t like the idea of spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, just because they slipped up and were going a few extra miles-per-hour over the speed limit on the way to giving birth or trying to get to a movie, funeral or church service in time to get a little texting in before things got too distracting.
And for those of you who follow such things, engineer geek Mike Valentine‘s detector, the Valentine One has long reigned atop the slagheap of wannabes detectors from Escort (that Valentine co-founded), Bel, Cobra, Whistler and other pretenders to the throne.
“Who builds the best high-end detector?” C&D’s headline asks.
Answer: Escort with it’s Passport Max.
However, unlike past C&D detector tests, you’d be hard pressed to find a definitive sentence declaring victory for Passport Max over the Valentine.
This is as close as it gets:
“Although the V1’s range matches or slightly exceeds the Passport’s in some cases, the Passport’s near elimination of false alarms provides a higher level of real world protection.”
That’s it, boys and girls.
So Passport’s the new champ despite Valentine matching or beating it in sensitivity.
Sounds like a pretty tepid endorsement to me. Especially when you factor in that C&D tester Eric Tingwall says in his summary that, “Admittedly, we haven’t put (the V1) up against Escort’s hyper-paranoid RedLine detector.”
Pardon me for asking, but why not?
If the $499.99 Escort RedLine is the shit, why waste our time comparing the longtime champ Valentine to a lesser detector…one that beats it no less?
Permit me to offer a theory:
The reason Car and Driver is downplaying that for the first time ever, longtime champ the Valentine One – that’s been blowing away the competition for like the better part of three decades – is because Valentine is a major advertiser. I mean, so is Escort but…
And in this day and age with magazine and print pubs dropping like flies, the last thing anybody wants to do is piss off a big advertiser…if they don’t have to.
“In a perfect world, the ultimate radar/lidar detector would sniff out only police radar or lidar, pinpoint its location, and then concisely communicate that information back to you. Although such a device doesn’t yet exist, the Valentine One comes the closest to that ideal and thus ranks highest in this test of top-notch detectors,” C&D gushed.
Pretty clear, no?
As for the (distant) second place Passport in that test, “The sleek-looking Passport 8500‘s second-place score of 73 is the closest a detector has ever come to the Valentine One in any of our comparisons. That 24-point spread correlates with its price, which is a fourth cheaper than the Valentine.”
In other words, the Passport came in second, but it was a distant second.
“It was an unfair test,” says one Valentine Research staffer. “Because they programmed the Escort and they didn’t program ours.”
That refers to the fact that the Passport picked up 9 critical points – in winning by only 3 -in the “selectivity” category that measures false alarms.
In other words, Passport’s far fewer false alarms put it over the top because the tester was too lazy to program the more extensive filter into the Valentine.
So what’s Mike Valentine’s reaction to Car and Driver’s new test?
“He was quite disappointed in their putting out an inaccurate test at the bare minimum,” says the source.
Does Valentine still think the Valentine One is still the top detector?
“Oh, of course,” says the source. “And anyone reading the review should too through deductive reasoning.”